ZWAVE Plus repeater necessary?

Quick question:

Do I still need repeater for my ZWAVE PLUS network or does really each power plugged wall switch automatically extend the range of my ToBe ZWAVE PLUS Network?
Is such a functionality also available when adding older non-Plus devices to the network?

I am asking because I see there are range extenders available and now I am confused!


No, you probably do not need a repeater.

Yes, each mains powered device acts as a repeater.

If every device can see at least one mains powered device that has a route back to the hub, you are set. A device in a far away corner may not be able to see the hub but can see a switch that can see the hub or another switch that can see the hub… that’s a route and you are good.

I lean towards adding more switches/outlets if coverage is poor as they cost about the same and add additional benefits over just repeating.

No, battery devices cannot repeat. Repeating requires listening all the time which is far too consuming on a battery.

One reason to get a repeater over a plug is if you have a chokepoint in your network. Repeaters are able to handle a greater volume of messages than a switch or outlet will be able to handle so can become overwhelmed and start to drop messages on the floor.

For example, I had a case where only one outlet could see the controller and my commands were often lost. I tried to use an appliance controller outlet and that at least gave me two devices that could see the controller but I still had commands dropped. Then I replaced the appliance controller with a repeater and my network has been solid ever since.

So it really comes down to the specifics of your network and the number of devices.

For sure. I could also see them in houses with bad reception like concrete buildings.

I’m no z-wave guru but I’m honestly surprised to hear that you could choke down a device. Was it a plus device? How many were past it? Is your network super chatty? Just curious as something to watch out for myself.

I’m sure some of it depends on your controller too and how it picks routes.

I’m not a guru either and I was mainly relying on Habmin 1.x to diagnose the problem. When I would look at the network, I could see that only one outlet was claiming to be a neighbor of the controller.

I’m in a three-story house and the controller is upstairs and all the zwave devices are on the main floor and the basement. The only outlet that was a neighbor of the controller was directly underneath it. I suspect that the antennas are crafted to maximize range horizontally and not vertically.

I doubt I have anything that is Zwave+. I have a Aeon Gen 2 controller and older GE outlets and appliance controllers.

The GE outlet had seven devices behind it, three of which were battery powered. So we are not talking about a crazy big network. And there were no sensors beyond the battery powered smoke/CO alarms so it is not a chatty network.

To fix the problem I put in a repeater in the room next to and on the same level as the controller which three more devices could see as a neighbor which gave at least two routes to the controller for all the devices.

Oh yeah, that makes sense. I had a vera lite which wasn’t plus and upgraded it to the edge. I was surprised at how much faster and responsive my network was. Most of my devices were already plus.

Definitely something worth upgrading at some point :slight_smile:

I can see the repeater in your situation. I thought about one to extend out to a detached garage I built. I added an aeon micro switch to the outside outlet on that corner of the house and that has been fine but there are only 3 devices past it.

The latter

Yes, zwave plus devices will route non-zwave plus devices, and vice versa. But you need a zwave plus controller to see the benefits of the newer generation zwave.

Do you have any reference for that info, or did you pick it up from personal experience? I’ve always thought of repeaters as marketing snake oil, since all mains powered devices will route for other devices. Although, not all mains powered devices have the same signal strength, and placement can be tricky in a sparsely populated mesh. If their range is the same, a smart outlet is just as effective as a repeater, and you can use it to do stuff. :slight_smile: Although, you’d likely see an improvement in your network with an upgrade to a gen5 controller.

That should be fine, but another device would build in some redundancy.

this is just anecdotal, but I had terribly response times from a Dana battery operated door lock, even though several mains-powered devices were nearby… and this greatly improved when I plugged in a repeater.

Do the other mains-powered devices have beaming?

That’s a very good question - I don’t know!

You can look up most device’s capabilities here: If you are interested.

I have a lock that has 3 hops to get to my controller. Works great but the devices are plus with beaming.

I would agree - from what I’ve seen in the docs, there’s no difference. Most devices use the same silicon so there’s no reason to assume that a repeater is any better, or worse, than any other (mains) device.

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All I have to go on is my experience. This repeater made my network rock solid. This mains powered device plugged into the exact same place with the exact same other devices was kept my network slow to respond to messages and dropped messages. There can be other explanations for this but I don’t think my conclusion was unreasonable.

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interesting link, but what would show us that a device is working as a repeater?

Well, as established, all mains powered devices repeat. As such it is a part of the z-wave library and functionality and they don’t appear to have a field for that as it would be redundant.

The link was specifically in response to beaming which is slightly different. If you find your device and then click on the “view” link under “Z-Wave Protocol Implementation Conformance Statement:”, under product information, you will see a list of supported technologies. Specifically, “Supports Z-Wave Beaming Technology?” yes/no.

That beaming tech will allow battery powered devices to rapidly communicate back through this device to a controller or another beaming capable device.

As for identifying if a device is a repeater ONLY… That should be pretty obvious from the devices name and description but the closest thing I could see that would tell you there would be to look at the Z-Wave library type. Just looking at Rich’s repeater:

Z-Wave library type: Routing Slave

I would made the assumption that a routing slave does little but route. :slight_smile:

Hope this helps.

Just a note that this isn’t 100% correct. It’s not applicable for normal battery devices - only FLiRS devices which are normally limited to locks and recently some thermostats.

Actually, you are correct, it can be used for any battery devices but it was designed for locks for quicker response.

I should also clarify that only the device closest to your lock needs to support beaming. I implied that beaming devices need to be in a chain back to the hub.

The last device will get the command and keep broadcasting it until the lock wakes up and acknowledges.

Yes, but just to be clear (sorry) - it’s only available on devices that support FLiRS. Normally, battery devices don’t support this.

Sorry - this is probably what you meant, but I just wanted to ensure that people don’t think that this will work with any battery devices they have. Most battery devices sleep 99.99% of the time and are only available when they wake up.

So what do you mean with it was designed for “locks” - what do you mean with a lock a switch?

When I do now have to setup a ZWAVE PLUS network for a large house, 3 floors, should I just make sure that I do use on each floor at least one powered device, or some more for each corner per floor, or what is your experience?